Rice and Beans with Tostones

Two of my three college roommates are from Puerto Rico, and the third is from the Dominican Republic. I was absolutely spoiled by the delicious food they made for our “family dinners” and potluck parties. Rice and beans were always a staple, of course, as were tostones and mangú. Our college apartment had a signature cookbook: Puerto Rico: True Flavors. A few years later, I was touched when one of my roommates from PR gave me a copy of this cookbook, along with her classic red beans recipe. This recipe has become a staple in our household; these beans are to die for!

Tostones are twice-fried plantains that are sweet, salty, crunchy, and amazing. We buy green plantains in our grocery store and love experimenting with different ways to cook them. Tostones remain our favorite plantain rendition because they are so easy to make (and kind of fun too! you get to smash things!), and they are perfect as an appetizer or a party food served with guacamole. I highly recommend trying this one.

For beans:
Olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 Tbsp sofrito
1/2 can tomato sauce
1 can red kidney beans, drained
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 bay leaf

For tostones:
Vegetable oil
1 green plantain

For rice:
1 cup basmati rice

For the beans, add the olive oil and garlic to a large saucepan and cook for 1 minute. Add the rest of the ingredients, stir, and simmer uncovered for 15-20 minutes. Meanwhile, cook 1 cup dry rice in a rice cooker.

For the tostones, start by peeling the plantain by scoring the peel in multiple places and peeling away the skin while under warm running water. Then slice the plantain into 1 inch pieces. Heat up a large skillet with vegetable oil (enough to just cover the bottom) over medium high heat. Once hot, add the plantain pieces to the oil and cook for 2 minutes on each side. Remove from the oil and drain on paper towel. Smash each piece with something flat (I used the back of my 1 cup measuring cup) until it explodes on the sides and it is flat and fritter-like. Return each piece to the hot oil and fry for another 2 minutes on each side. Remove from oil and drain on paper towels, and salt generously. Serve with rice and beans, and sauteed spinach if desired!

Makes 6 tostones and 2 servings rice and beans

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